India’s dangerous regional strategy

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Sajjad Shaukat
It is regrettable that since Narendra Modi, the leader
of the ruling BJP, became Prime Minister of India,
he has been following the discarded tactics of Machiavelli in the modern era of renunciation of war, peaceful settlement of disputes and economic development. In this regard, PM Modi, BJP, RSS and VHP are acting upon ideology of Hindutva ((Hindu Nationalism). Indian extremist rulers’ various moves such as abrogation of the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir to turn Muslim majority into minority in the Occupied Kashmir (IOK), continued lockdown in the IOK, martyrdom of thousands of the Kashmiris there, introduction of new domicile law against the majority of Kashmiris to completely end any sort of dialogue with Islamabad to settle the Kashmir issue, persecution of religious minorities especially Muslims, anti-Muslim laws-CAA/NRC, under the guise of Coronavirus, discriminatory policies against the Muslims, assaults on Muslims by the fanatic Hindus, blaming Indian Muslims and Pakistan for spreading of this novel virus in India and imposing various restrictions on the Muslims are notable.
Besides, Indian central government issued a notorious map on 31 October 2019. In accordance with it, Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and identifies Pakistani side of Jammu & Kashmir (Azad Jammu & Kashmir) as well as certain areas of Gilgit-Baltistan as an Indian territory. In this respect, Pakistan Foreign Office has said in a statement that Islamabad “rejects these political maps, which were incompatible with the United Nations’ maps….no move by India could change the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir…India’s expansionist intention has manifested itself in another dangerous move of formally annexing India-occupied Kashmir.” China also objected to the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories as “unlawful and void”, adding that India’s decision to “include” some of China’s territory into its administrative jurisdiction “challenged” Beijing’s sovereignty.
While, Indian fanatic rulers are escalating tensions with Pakistan to divert attention from the drastic situation of the IoK and internal issues and have accelerated shelling inside Pakistani side of Kashmir by violating the ceasefire agreement in relation to the Line of Control (LoC). Tension escalated between New Delhi and Islamabad when on 27 February, in response to the Indian so-called pre-emptive air strike near the town of Balakot close to the border with Pakistan’s sector of Kashmir, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets and launched aerial strikes at six targets in the IoK. Indian pilot Abhinandan was briefly detained by Pakistan and as a peace gesture, Islamabad released him. Meanwhile, on 5 May this year, tension escalated between India and Nepal and India and China, which resulted into loss of face for India.
In this connection, thousands of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops moved into sensitive areas along the eastern Ladakh border, setting up tents and stationing heavy machinery in what India considers its territory. China’s actions have been in response to India’s construction of roads and airstrips adjacent to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which will improve connectivity and enable easier mobility for Indian troops in the area. In this context, Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “China is committed to safeguarding the security of its national territorial sovereignty, as well as safeguarding peace and stability in the China-India border areas.”
As regards tension between India and Nepal, a new road opened by New Delhi which passes through the disputed territory has roused territorial dispute between the two countries. The link road connects Dharchula in the India state of Uttarakhand to the Lipu Lekh Pass near the LAC–India’s border with China. The southern side of the Lipu Lekh Pass, called the Kalapani territory, is a disputed region between India and Nepal. Observers believe that India’s move to open road aims at monitoring Chinese movements.
In the recent past, Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Oli said in Parliament that Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura belong to Nepal and vowed to “reclaim” them through political and diplomatic efforts. And Nepal on 20 May 2020 published an authoritative map, showing these areas as part of its territory, toughening its stance against New Delhi. If we look at South Asia, India has created problem with every SAARC country: military conflicts, water disputes, border disputes etc. Now, even smaller nations within the South Asian region have realized that Indian bully has to be stopped. In fact, fast growing economic power of China coupled with her rising strategic relationship with the Third World has irked the Indians. Nepal has become another target of the Indian hegemonic designs in South Asia, as it has developed cordial relationship with Beijing, while New Delhi’s endeavor to alienate Katmandu from China has failed.
While China’s increasingly closer ties with Pakistan and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is part of China’s OBOR or BRI has openly been opposed by India which is trying to sabotage this project, as recent terror-attacks, sponsored by Indian RAW in Pakistan and Balochistan province have shown.
It is mentionable that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently stated: “India’s expansionist policies in the region, led by the ruling right-wing BJP of Narendra Modi, are becoming a threat to New Delhi’s neighbours…New Delhi has border disputes with China and Nepal-China can’t remain oblivious to India’s illegal constructions in Ladakh”. Notably, the last major border tension between New Delhi and Beijing occurred in 2014. The standoff was resolved after three weeks. The two countries also fought a brief war in 1962, which China won.
But, now, border dispute between both the neighbouring countries has become very serious. If it not resolved through negotiations, it could result into a conventional war which may culminate into nuclear war, enveloping the entire region.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.